James E. McDonald - Chief of Department  William Murray - Deputy Chief
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Lynn Fire Department 
725 Western Avenue, Lynn, MA 01905
(781) 593-1234    Fax (781) 596-1480

 

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Home arrow Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program

Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program


   


General Information E-mail

Program Background

jfsip004.jpgThe problem of juvenile firesetting is gaining increasing attention. Children under the age of 17 account for a startling number of fires in our area and all too often are the victims of the fires they set. Firesetting behavior is progressive and left untreated has an 81% probability of being repeated. Lynn's program is managed by a multi-agency task force of which includes the following agencies: Lynn Fire, Department of Social Services (Lynn), Lynn Police, Essex County Juvenile Probation (Lynn), Essex County Juvenile Diversion (Lynn), Lynn School Dept., Tri-City Mental Health, Department of Mental Health, Lynn Community Health Center, Lynn Housing Authority and other local mental health professionals. Our goals are: to identify, assess and intervene with children who start, play with or witness firesetting at the earliest stages. Firesetting is a complex series of different behaviors and this is the reason no one agency can tackle the problem by itself.



Referrals
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Firesetting in young children often occurs in the home, so parents are often the first to notice evidence of fire play, such as burnt matches, scorched materials or the smell of smoke. These warning signs should be reported to your local Fire Dept. immediately. If you reside in Lynn, the Arson Squad should be notified immediately at 781-599-0232. If the fire occurs in school the teacher and/or principal should be notified immediately and they will make the referral to us. Some children attend our school on a voluntary basis and others are mandated to attend from the referring agencies such as the school department, local courts and DSS. If appropriate some children are charged for the offense. This is done not to hurt the child but to get him help. Some parents are reluctant to get their children help unless forced to. For many of these children who are charged, once they complete the requirements of our program their offense is removed from their record.

If you live outside of Lynn or want more information on the program contact District Chief Joseph Zukas at 781-953-4555.




Intervention for Curious Firesetters

jfsip006.jpgCurious firesetters are most often young children under the age of 10 (mostly boys) who set impulsive fires using ordinary combustibles and matches/lighters left within easy reach. These children need a safe and constructive way to learn about fire and to satisfy their very healthy curiosity. These children are given a fire safety education course and helpful advice to the parents on how to keep their home safe. At the conclusion of this program the child should be able to complete a knowledge and behavior test.



Intervention for Crisis Firesetters

Crisis firesetters use fires to call attention to problems they are struggling with, such as recent changes in their families, school problems, a crisis or a trauma. They set highly symbolic fires that point to the source of their stress. These children need both education and counseling. If your child needs it, they will be referred to a mental health professional from our task force for an in depth assessment to decide the appropriate course of treatment. Children whose behavior is found to be higher risk may require more intensive treatment in an inpatient center.



Intervention for Delinquent Firesetters

Older children and those adolescents who set vandalism type fires in groups or individually fall into the category of delinquent firesetters. These children lack responsible decision making skills and are unconcerned with about the potentially devastating impact of their actions on other people. The intervention for this type of fire is education and community service. If needed counseling will be referred for any emotional, behavioral or substance abuse problems that may be contributing to the firesetting.



DID YOU KNOW?
  • ARSON IS THE #1 CRIME COMMITTED BY JUVENILES
  • ½ OF ALL CHILDREN KILLED BY FIRE, SET THE FIRE THEMSELVES
  • LEFT UNTREATED, 81% OF FIRESETTERS WILL REPEAT THEIR DANGEROUS ACTIONS
  • FIRE IS THE ONLY OBJECT OF MASS DESTRUCTION THAT YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE EASY ACCESS TO
  • FIRESETTERS ARE NOT ARSONISTS OR PYROMANIACS
  • In Lynn and throughout the state, 60% of all fires are caused by children
  • Each year in Lynn fires set by children cause millions of dollars in property damage. In the year 2001 alone, fires set by juvenile caused over 3 million dollars in damage. (This does not include the economic impact on the community such as lost jobs and the loss of tax revenue to the city).
  • In 1998 a Lynn man was killed by a fire started by his 5-year-old grand son.
  • The size of the fire does not determine the seriousness of the child's problem. Every big fire starts small and all extinguished fires should be reported to the fire department immediately.

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR WANT TO REFER YOUR CHILD TO OUR PROGRAM PLEASE CONTACT THE FIRE PREVENTION BUREAU OR THE ARSON SQUAD.

 

 

 
Program History E-mail

  • Lynn's program was developed by then Lt. Joseph Zukas in 1998  after he was approached by Captain Jack Decareau of the Lynn Arson Squad who came up with the idea of Lynn having a program to help young children who experiment with fire after he investigated numerous fires  which were started by young children.
  • The Lynn program was associated with the former Massachusetts Coalition of Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Programs (www.kidsandfire.com). There are 18 Juvenile Firesetter programs throughout the state.
  • Over 500 children have gone through Lynn's Fire School.
  • District Chief Joseph Zukas (781-953-4555) is coordinator of the program
  • There is no cost for the Fire School
  • 91% of participants in the Fire School have been male.
  • 67% of students have a previous history of firesetting
  • 50% of students in our program have been diagnose with ADHD
  • 72% of students in our program are SPED students in school.
  • Classes currently held in South Conference Room at Lynn's Union Hospital on Sunday evenings
  • The fire school is 10 weeks and each class is 90 minutes.
  • The classes are broken down into 2 age groups; (ages 7-11) and (ages 12-17).
  • Each student is given a pre and post test. The average pre test score is 54% and the average post test score is 92%.
  • Though Lynn's program has been very successful with no documented case of recidivism to date, we make no promises that our program will result in no future firesetting behavior. Firesetting behavior is very complex and throughout the state the recidivism rate is approximately 20%.
  • For those communities without an intervention programs like Lynn's, the recidivism rate is approximately 80%.

If your child needs help or if you want to give information on another child you    think could benefit from our program please contact: the arson squad (781-599-0232) or the lynn fire prevention office (781-596-0213) please do not minimize your childs actions, it does not matter how big or small the fire was. it is the fact that the fire was started in the first place. all big fires start small!

 

 
 

 
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